Junior wrestlers allege sexual harassment; SAI probes matter

New Delhi: The Sports Authority of India has suspended a wrestling coach after four girls, training under him, levelled sexual harassment charges against him.

The charges were made by the girls during a recent training camp in Lucknow. The under-19 camp was orgainsed ahead of the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in Kazakhstan.

The girls reached out to Sports Minister Ajay Maken and the matter is now being investigated by a three-member SAI committee, headed by its Lucknow director Rachana Govil.

"We will submit a report in 15 days. It`s a very serious and sensitive matter and the coach has been disallowed to travel with the team abroad. He has been temporarily suspended till the inquiry is pending. He will not travel with the girls until he is cleared of the charges," SAI Director General Desh Deepak Verma said.

"The girls, who have levelled charges against the coach, have left for Kazakhstan along with other members of the team. The complaint also said the coach used to pass objectionable comments. We are looking into the details of the complaint," added Verma.

The incident took place a fortnight ago during the camp, held from April 30 to May 25.

The complaint, filed on May 16 with the Sports Minister, stated that on the night of May 15, a coach from Haryana forcibly entered the room of one of the junior wrestlers, also hailing from the same state.

The girl raised an alarm and the other girls reached her room and locked it from outside. The coach allegedly threatened the girls against reporting the matter and even used abusive language while making his way out of the room.

The wrestler, however, filed a complaint with Maken the next day. The complaint letter has been signed by the four girls.

However, SAI Director General gave a new twist to the whole incident by stating that one of the junior wrestlers has withdrawn her complaint, claiming that her signature was forged.

Verma said that nature of the complaint looked quite suspicious.

"The complaint letter was signed by four girls. One of them has withdrawn her name by stating that she did not make any complaint and her signature was forged," Verma said.

"We are also looking into this aspect whether signatures of the complainants have been forged. The signatures bear a similar resemblance," he said.

SAI is looking at the issue from an angle of rivalry between officials of two states -- Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

"The coach involved in this matter is from Haryana. I am hearing that there could be a rivalry angle but it would be too early to comment. Let`s wait for the inquiry to complete," Verma added.

It was the first time that a junior girls` wrestling camp was hosted by the SAI Lucknow centre.